The fast growing Internet of Things (IoT) market has been a boon to the mini PC market, and the same can be said about the relatively recent maker movement. Plain and simple, geeks love to tinker. The affordable Raspberry Pi helped popularize the mini PC category by offering tinkerers cheap entry into the field, and because of that, we're seeing some interesting competitors emerge. One of them is the NanoPi Neo Plus2.
The NanoPi Neo Plus2 is powerful and cheaper alternative to the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. It is available online for just $25, which is $10 less expensive than the Pi 3. Based on price along, you might think the NanoPi Neo Plus2 is a comparatively under powered mini PC or otherwise stripped of features available on the popular Pi 3, but that is not the case. The two are actually quite similar.
Like Raspberry's flagship mini PC, the NanoPI Neo Plus2 is powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 system-on-chip (SoC) clocked at 1.5GHz and 1GB of RAM. It has onboard Wi-Fi (802.11n) and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The NanoPi Neo Plus2 even offers some features not found on the Pi 3, such as gigabit Ethernet and 8GB of onboard storage.
Image Source: Friendly Elec
This all comes on a six-layer PCB outfitted with two USB 2.0 ports, a 4-pin debug serial port, 24-pin and 12-pin GPIO headers, a microSD slot that supports system booting, and a 5-pin audio input/out header.
Beyond the raw hardware, the NanoPi Neo Plus2 runs Ubuntu Core, a minimal version of Ubuntu that is purpose-built for IoT devices. This is where Raspberry Pi still has the edge—it seems to support a larger selection of software as it can run various Linux desktop distros. On top of that, there are a lot of resources out there for manipulating the Raspbian OS, due to the popularity of the Raspberry Pi.
That said, the NanoPi Neo Plus2 does support a bunch of software libraries, including QT-Embedded, RPi.GPIO, WiringPi, and both FriendlyElec's BakeBit and NanoHAT OLED.
If this sounds like something you would like to play around with. hit he source link to order one.